Ultimate Thanksgiving Prep Guide: Menu Idea

Hello Foodies!

It’s officially the third week of November and 11 days from Thanksgiving. How are you doing? Feeling ready to impress? Or maybe a little overwhelmed. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a step back and brainstorm how you could make this a little easier on yourself. That’s what this guide is all about, making the holiday easier for the host. Try taking some of the more tedious items like bread, rolls, and dessert of your plate by preordering from a bakery. Do it this week so you know you’re order is placed and confirmed. Consider asking a couple close friends to co-host with you or turning it into a potluck. That way all you have to worry about the turkey and gravy.

This week I’m feeling a little behind. I ended up getting a nasty flu last week and it pretty much knocked me out. So today I’m playing catchup. Deciding which menu to make, preparing my grocery list and stocking up on things that won’t go bad in the next week and a half. This week is great to run to the store and get things like canned pumpkin, butter, cream, condiments, and booze.

Hopefully, by this point in the game, you have at least an idea of what your guest list is going to look like. Any allergies or intolerances? Write those down and keep it in the back of your mind throughout this post. Remember that if you just have one or two guests with an allergy, you don’t have to wire the whole meal around them, just make sure they have delicious and filling options. Consider asking them what they like to eat or for recipes so you know they’ll be happy.

If you’re struggling to decide what to make and which recipe to use, this week I’ll be posting another menu option. Each comprised of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes, some from myself, and some that I have used in the past from other bloggers.

Today, we’re going to cover the traditional menu. Then later this week I’m going to go over a menu centered around duck and autumn vegetable side dishes.

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The Traditional Menu

You can’t go wrong with the classics. This menu is simple, elegant, and delicious. I recommend this menu to anyone who hasn’t made a Thanksgiving dinner on their own before because you’ve probably seen it done before and have an idea of how to make these dishes on your own. I also suggest this menu to anyone who isn’t looking to go crazy on groceries. Lot’s of these recipes use the same herbs and seasonings so you won’t end up with a bunch of leftover ingredients.

How to accomplish this menu:

Obviously, a few items on this menu need oven time. Here are some tips and tricks to realistically accomplish this menu in time for dinner. Two days before, make your cranberry sauce and the salad dressing. The night before, chop all of your vegetables and pick any herbs that need picking. If you plan to roast any vegetables, like the butternut squash for the salad, do it now. It’s easy to reheat in time for dinner. Make the pumpkin pie as well, or at least have all your ingredients ready so you don’t have to slap it together in a rush. Lastly, make sure your bread is out and drying, you can even go ahead and toast it the night before to save time in the oven when you need it. On the day of, make sure to accomplish as much as possible while the turkey is roasting. Put the stuffing together, prepare the cheese plate, boil the potatoes.

Cheese Platter: Go easy on this, a firm cheese like manchego or gruyere, and aged cheddar, gorgonzola for the blue cheese, and a soft cheese like brie or goat cheese. If your guests are more adventurous, try out Rush Creek Reserve. It’s a soft, smelly cheese and it’s seasonal to fall and early winter. To serve, leave it at room temp for a couple hours and remove the top when you’re ready to serve. Accompany your cheese with some fruit preserves such as fig, nice for the season and pairs well with any of the soft cheeses. Fresh fruits, like grapes and pears (pears go well with blue cheese and gruyere). Add in something savory such as roasted red peppers or a maple, bacon, and onion jam. To cut through the dairy, add some charcuterie or cured meats; prosciutto, salami, and pate area all a great addition. Of course, don’t forget the crunch. Crackers (a gluten and gluten-free option like nut thins), bread, and mixed nuts. Plan for about 3oz of cheese per guest. Be sure to label each component and set out separate utensils for each. Set it out as your first guests arrive so they have something to keep them entertained while you finish up in the kitchen.

Herb Butter Roasted Turkey

  • 1C (2 sticks) Butter, softened
  • 1/4 C Rosemary, picked, plus a couple whole sprigs
  • 2 TBSP Thyme, picked, plus a couple whole sprigs
  • 2 TBSP Sage, chopped, plus a couple whole leaves
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 C Chicken Stock
  • 1/4 C White Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 C Butter, melted
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Dijon
  • 3-4 Celery Stocks
  • 2 Carrots
  • 1 Leek, cut in half
  1. Preheat oven to 325°
  2. Combine chicken stock, vinegar, melted butter, garlic and dijon in a bowl, cover and let sit for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Combine salt and pepper and rub the turkey on top and under the skin.
  4. Combine 1 cup of butter with the picked herbs thoroughly and rub half the mixture under the skin of the entire bird and brush the other half on top.
  5. Pour chicken stock mixture into the injecting tool and inject the meatiest parts of the bird, making sure to change the angle of the needle several times to evenly inject the turkey.
  6. Stuff the bird with whole rosemary, thyme, sage, bay leaf, celery, carrot, and leeks. Using butchers twine or tinfoil, tie the legs together and the wings to the body of the bird.
  7. Place in a roasting pan in the oven. Bake until all juices run clear and a meat thermometer registers 165 at the thickest part of the breast and 180 at the thigh. About 15 minutes per pound.
  8. While the turkey is roasting continue to baste the turkey with the juices in the bottom of the pan.
  9. Cover with tin foil and rest until ready to serve.

 

Roasted Squash and Apple Salad + Brown Butter Maple Vinaigrette

  • 1 Small Butternut Squash, peeled and sliced
  • 3 Sprigs Thyme
  • 3 Sprigs Rosemary
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, peel on
  • 3 TBSP EVOO
  • 2 Gala Apples, thinly sliced
  • 1 Bag Spinach, washed
  • 1/4 C Walnuts
  • 3/4 C Unsalted Butter, Browned
  • 6 TBSP EVOO
  • 6 TBSP Apple Cider Vin
  • 1 Small Shallot, minced
  • 1 Tsp Dijon
  • 2 Tsp Maple Syrup
  • Salt to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Place squash on a sheet tray, evenly coat with EVOO, salt, and pepper. Place thyme, rosemary, and garlic on the tray. Roast until soft and slightly browned, about 30 minutes.
  3. In a blender, combine shallots, vinegar, dijon, and maple syrup. Combine EVOO and brown butter in a liquid measuring cup. Turn blender on high and slowly drizzle butter in. Salt to taste.
  4. Combine apples, spinach, walnuts and squash in a serving dish, top with warm vinaigrette.

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Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 12oz Bag Fresh or Frozen Cranberries
  • 1/2 C Orange Juice
  • 1/2 C Water
  • 1 Strip Lemon Zest, pith removed
  • 1 Strip Orange Zest, pith removed
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  1. In a medium saucepan bring orange juice, sugar, water, spices, and zest to a boil, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves.
  2. Add cranberries and simmer until they begin to pop, about ten minutes. Lightly smash the berries, remove from heat, and rest for 30  minutes.
  3. Cover and refrigerate.

Rosemary Turkey Gravy 

  • 1/2 C Butter
  • 1/2 C AP Flour
  • 1/4 C White Wine
  • Leftover Drippings from Roast Turkey, approx 4 C. (or 4 C Poultry Stock)
  • 2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
  • 1 tsp Lemon Zest
  • 2 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter and whisk in flour to make a roux.
  2. Use the white wine to deglaze your roasting pan. Pour drippings and wine into the roux.
  3. Add rosemary, lemon zest and lemon juice, simmer until thick consistency is reached, about 20 minutes.
  4. Serve hot.

 

To finish, make your mashed potatoes and stuffing. Transfer everything to serving dishes and carve the turkey. If anything needs to be warmed up last minute, place it in the oven as you plate the last of your food.

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